Will Basil Root in Water? Your Ultimate Guide to Basil Propagation

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So you’ve got some basil plants, and you’re wondering, “Will basil root in water?” You’re in luck because the answer is a resounding yes! And guess what? It’s super easy to do. Stick around, and I’ll walk you through the whole process, step by step.

Why Root Basil in Water?

Advantages of Water Rooting Over Soil

Rooting basil in water has some cool perks. First off, it’s just plain easier to see what’s happening. You can literally watch those tiny roots sprout from the stem. Plus, there’s no mess, no soil spilling on your kitchen counter.

Speed of the Process

If you’re as impatient as I am, you’ll love this. Basil cuttings root pretty quickly in water, usually within 2 to 3 weeks. That’s way faster growing basil from seed.

I remember the first time I tried rooting cuttings in water; I was amazed at how quickly those little roots appeared.


Let’s talk money, or rather, the money you’ll save. You don’t need any fancy equipment or special rooting hormones. A glass jar and some tap water are pretty much all you need. It’s like getting new plants for free!

Types of Basil You Can Root

Sweet Basil

Ah, the classic! Sweet basil is your go-to for Italian dishes. It roots well in water and is super versatile in the kitchen. I use it in everything from pasta to basil pesto.

Thai Basil

If you’re into Asian cuisine, Thai basil is a must-have. It has a unique anise-like flavor and is great in stir-fries and curries. And yes, it roots just as easily in water.

Lemon Basil

Love a citrusy kick? Lemon basil is your guy. It adds a zesty flavor to fish and chicken dishes. I once rooted some lemon basil just for a special lemon-basil vinaigrette I wanted to try, and it was a hit!

Holy Basil

Also known as Tulsi, this one’s a staple in Indian households. It’s not just for cooking; it’s also used for its medicinal properties. Holy basil can be a bit trickier to root, but with a little patience, it’ll work.

What You’ll Need

List of Materials

Alright, let’s get down to business. You’ll need:

  • A healthy basil plant (obviously!)
  • A glass jar or cup
  • Room-temperature water
  • Sharp scissors or garden snips

Each item on this list plays a crucial role. The healthy basil plant ensures that you’re starting with strong genetic material. The glass jar holds the water, and room-temperature water helps the cutting root faster. Sharp scissors or small pruning snips are essential for a clean cut, which helps the basil root more efficiently.

Step-by-Step Guide to Rooting Basil in Water

Selecting the Right Cutting

First things first, you’ve got to pick the right stem from your basil plant. Look for a stem that’s healthy, green, and about 4-6 inches long. A good stem will have at least a couple of leaves but won’t be flowering.

Why no flowers, you ask? Well, a flowering stem is focusing its energy on making those blooms, not roots. I once tried rooting a flowering stem, and let’s just say, it was a flop. So, lesson learned!

Preparing the Cutting

Once you’ve got your perfect stem, it’s time to make the cut. Literally. Use your scissors or garden snips to snip the stem just below a leaf node. That’s the little bump where leaves grow. This is where your new roots will sprout from.

After the cut, remove any leaves from the bottom 2 inches of the stem. You don’t want those guys submerged in water because they’ll just rot, and that’s a one-way ticket to Fungusville.

Setting Up the Water Container

Now, grab a glass jar or a cup, anything transparent works. Fill it up with room-temperature water. Why room temperature? Cold water can shock the plant, and hot water is a no-go for obvious reasons.

Place your freshly snipped basil cutting in the water, making sure those leaf nodes where you want the roots to grow are submerged. I usually keep the jar on my kitchen windowsill. It gets enough light there but not direct sunlight, which can be too harsh.

Monitoring the Rooting Process: Week 1

Place your jar in a spot with bright, indirect light and let nature do its thing. You won’t see much action yet, but that’s okay. It’s like when you plant seeds; you know something’s happening under the soil even if you can’t see it.

The first week is all about patience. You may be left wondering, will basil root in water? I assure you it will, just give the cutting a little time.

Monitoring the Rooting Process: Week 2-3

This is when the magic happens. You’ll start to see tiny roots sprouting from those leaf nodes. It’s super exciting, trust me! At this stage, you’ll want to change the water every couple of days. Fresh water provides the oxygen and cleanliness the roots need to grow.

By the end of week 3, you should have roots that are about an inch or two long. That’s when you know your basil is ready for transplanting.

Bonus: What If It’s Not Working?

Don’t lose heart if you don’t see roots right away. Sometimes it takes a bit longer, depending on the conditions. Make sure you’re not making any of the common mistakes like leaving leaves in the water or forgetting to change the water.

And remember, every plant has its own pace. Some might root in a week, while others take their sweet time. Just be patient and keep an eye on them.

How to Transplant Basil Rooted in Water

When to Transplant: Timing is Everything

So you’ve successfully rooted your basil in water, congrats! But when is the right time to transplant it into soil? Whether you plant to grow the basil in containers or in the garden, a good rule of thumb is to wait until the roots are about 2 inches long. You’ll know they’re ready when they look strong and healthy, not thin and wispy.

I usually give it about 2-3 weeks in water before transplanting the cuttings.

Preparing the Soil: Setting the Stage

Before you yank that basil out of its watery home, make sure you’ve got a welcoming spot ready for it. Use a good-quality potting soil in a pot with drainage holes. Basil doesn’t like to sit in waterlogged soil; it prefers well-drained conditions. I usually add a bit of compost to the mix for extra nutrients.

The Transplanting Process: Making the Move

Alright, it’s go-time! Gently remove the basil cutting from the water, being careful not to damage those precious roots. Make a small hole in the soil with your finger or a stick, and place the rooted cutting in it.

Cover the roots with soil and give it a good but gentle pat to remove any air pockets. I like to water it immediately after transplanting to help it settle in.

Post-Transplant Care: The Honeymoon Phase

The first week after transplanting is crucial. Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Place your newly transplanted basil in a sunny spot, but avoid direct afternoon sun for the first few days. Gradually introduce it to more sunlight as the days go by.

Monitoring Growth: Keep an Eye Out

After you’ve transplanted your basil, it’s important to monitor its growth. If you see new leaves sprouting, that’s a good sign your basil is happy in its new home. On the flip side, if the leaves start to yellow or droop, it might be a sign you’re overwatering or that it’s not getting enough light. Adjust as needed.

So there you have it, a guide on how to transplant rooted basil after you’ve confirmed that yes, basil will root in water. With these tips, you’ll ensure that your basil transitions smoothly from water to soil, setting it up for a long, healthy life.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When You Root Basil in Water

Leaves in the Water: A Recipe for Rot

One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to find out if basil will root in water is leaving leaves submerged. You might think, “What’s the big deal?

Leaves that sit in water will rot, and that’s bad news for your basil. It can lead to bacterial growth that can ruin the whole rooting process. So, make sure to remove any leaves from the bottom 2 inches of your stem before placing it in water.

Stale Water: Don’t Get Lazy

Another mistake that can make you question whether basil will root in water is not changing the water regularly. Stale water becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and can also lack the oxygen your budding roots need.

I recommend changing the water every 2-3 days. It’s a small step but makes a world of difference. I set reminders on my phone to do it; otherwise, life gets in the way, and I forget.

Poor Lighting: It’s Not Just About Water

You might think that because you’re rooting in water, light doesn’t matter. But it does. A lack of sufficient light can slow down the rooting process or even stop it altogether. So, if you’re wondering why your basil isn’t rooting in water, check its light conditions.

Place your jar in a spot with bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can be harsh and cause the water to heat up, which isn’t good for the roots.

Overcrowding: Give Them Room to Grow

This one’s a bit less common but still worth mentioning. If you’re like me and get super excited about rooting plants, you might be tempted to cram multiple cuttings into one jar. While it’s true basil can root in water, overcrowding can lead to poor water circulation and less room for roots to grow.

Stick to one or two cuttings per jar to give them the best chance at success.

Ignoring the Temperature: Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold

Temperature plays a role too. If you’re keeping your jar in a spot that’s too cold, the roots may take forever to grow, making you question whether basil will root in water at all. On the flip side, too warm of a spot can lead to faster bacterial growth.

So there you have it, a rundown of common mistakes to avoid when you’re trying to root basil in water. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a basil-rooting pro!

Tips for Year-Round Basil

How to Maintain a Continuous Supply: The Circle of Basil Life

So you’ve mastered the art of rooting basil in water and transplanting it into soil. What’s next? Keeping that basil train going, of course!

One of the best ways to maintain a continuous supply is to keep taking cuttings from your mature basil plants and start the water-rooting process all over again.

I usually have a couple of jars on my windowsill at different stages, so I always have fresh basil ready to transplant or use in cooking.

Pruning for Productivity: A Little Snip Goes a Long Way

Pruning isn’t just for bushes and trees; your basil will benefit from it too. Regularly snipping off the tips of your basil plants will encourage bushier growth and more leaves. And guess what? Those snipped-off tips are perfect candidates for rooting in water. It’s a win-win!

Just make sure you’re not taking off more than a third of the plant at a time.

Seasonal Adjustments: Every Season is Basil Season

If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate, you can pretty much grow basil outdoors year-round. But for those of us who have to deal with winter, bringing your basil indoors is key. The good news is, basil that you’ve rooted in water and transplanted into pots is already perfectly portable.

Just bring those pots inside when the temperature starts to drop and place them in a sunny window.

Using Grow Lights for Indoor Growth: Let There Be Light!

Don’t have a sunny window? No problem. Grow lights can be a game-changer for keeping your basil happy during the winter months. They’re not as complicated or as high-tech as they sound.

MARS HYDRO 2024 TS600 100Watt LED Grow Light 2x2ft Coverage, New Diodes Layout Full Spectrum Growing…
  • 2024 Upgraded TS600 LED Grow Lights: Experience the advantages of our new diode layout, densely packed in the center and sparse on the sides. This arrangement creates a more uniform light distribution…

I use a simple LED grow light that I got online, and it works like a charm. Just make sure to adjust the light schedule to mimic natural daylight as much as possible. I usually go for about 14-16 hours of light and 8-10 hours of darkness.

Fertilizing: Feed Me, Seymour!

Even the best soil runs out of nutrients eventually, especially if it’s supporting a fast-growing plant like basil. Using the best fertilizer for basil can ensure your plants get the nutrients they needs to thrive. Just follow the instructions on the fertilizer package, and you’ll be fine.

So there you have it, your guide to keeping the basil party going year-round, long after you’ve answered the question of whether basil will root in water. With these tips, you’ll have a never-ending supply of this versatile herb, ready for all your culinary adventures.


So there you have it! Rooting basil in water is easy, quick, and cost-effective. You can root different types of basil, and the process is pretty straightforward.

If I can do it, so can you. Give it a try and expand your herb gardening with little to no effort. It’s super easy to grow basil from cuttings.

FAQ: Will Basil Root in Water?

How long does it take for basil cuttings to root?

Basil cuttings typically take about 2 to 3 weeks to root when placed in water. You’ll know they’re ready when the roots are about 2 inches long and look healthy.

Can you propagate basil from the grocery store?

Absolutely! As long as the basil stems are fresh and healthy, you can root them in water. Just follow the same steps as you would with basil from your garden.

Do cuttings need light to root?

Yes, cuttings do need light to root effectively. However, it’s best to provide indirect light rather than direct sunlight, which can be too harsh and heat the water.

How long can you keep basil in water?

You can keep basil in water for up to 4 weeks, but it’s best to transplant it into soil once the roots are about 2 inches long for optimal growth.

Is it better to propagate basil in water or soil?

Both methods have their merits, but propagating basil in water allows you to visibly monitor root growth and is generally quicker. Soil propagation takes longer and you can’t easily check the root progress, but it’s equally effective when done correctly.

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